F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --
For 24 hours across 20th Air Force, women held the key to air power by having all-female missile alert crews for the third year at all facilities, including those in the F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Missile Complex, March 25, 2018.
The purpose of the all-female alert was to recognize female history and to honor the first female to pull alert on the Minuteman III ICBM.
Women were fully integrated into the military in the 1970's and in 1989, as a 1st Lt of the 321st Strategic Missile Squadron, Lea Dye pulled her first alert on the Minuteman III ICBM. After Dye pulled alert, the number of female missileers eventually grew, but at a slow climb.
It’s not unusual to have female missileers sitting around the table at the pre-departure briefings. However, during today's event only females sat around the tables, and they fill all the roles of a missile combat crew commander at F.E. Warren and across 20th AF.
After attending a conference with the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe last year, Lt. Col. Amy Grant, 320th Missile Squadron director of operations, was able to get a different perspective on women within the military.
"Not all countries view women's rights the same way," said Grant. "There are a lot of militaries where women are excluded or relegated from specific careers. Women in the Air Force are in a small minority compared to militaries around the world because so many career fields are open to us."
The total female force has grown from the approximately 11 percent of women serving in the 1980's to the approximately 20 percent total and 26 percent of company grade officers within nuclear and missile operations are female.
"This day allows us to highlight some of the roles women in the Air Force hold and we can showcase the steps being taken to diversify us as a whole," said 2nd Lt. Stephanie Sarabia, 319th Missile Squadron missileer.
With the words "Who runs the world? Girls!" ringing in the Missile Alert Facilities throughout the day, it is important to note that not all females across the world are treated with the same respect as the women of the U.S. Air Force and there have been great strides to get us this far.
"We are not trying to prove anything on this day,” said Sarabia. “It may have been an original intent, but there is a bigger underlying factor. We need to shed light on the awesome job we do. We need to be role models and show we can defend this nation. We can show all the little girls out there women can step into big roles and do as good as the men and look like a badass in the process."
With Women's History Month coming to a close, the female missileers at F.E. Warren were able to honor Dye and the other women in history that paved the way for their career within the Air Force.
"This event is part of a bigger month to discuss the challenges women face, the heritage of females within the Air Force, and to look how far we have come," said Grant.
…The women of the 20th Air Force protected the world with nuclear deterrence for 24 hours on March 25, 2018.